This section of the News and Media Services department site tracks stories in print and broadcast media that feature Auggie faculty, students, and staff. The area also is home to material developed for University-related programs, events, and more.
Augsburg University leaders today announced the public phase of Great Returns: We’re All In, a comprehensive campaign to raise $125 million in endowment and core mission support. With commitments of more than $105 million received to date, it is already the university’s largest-ever campaign. A public launch event will take place on Friday, May 6, at 4:30 p.m. at the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion on Augsburg’s campus.
Rooted in Augsburg’s current strategic plan and following Augsburg’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2019, Great Returns seeks to provide long-term stability as the university looks ahead to the next 150 years. Specific campaign priorities include growing Augsburg’s endowment, including endowed scholarships and professorships; drawing on unrestricted community support for operating activities and athletics in the wake of the pandemic; and investing in campus improvements like the renovation to the athletic training center and locker rooms in Si Melby Hall.
“Donors who care deeply about our mission have made the initial commitments that set the pace for the broader campaign,” said campaign co-chair and Regent Emeritus Paul Mueller ’84, MD. “Through endowed funds, we can invest in students and faculty and produce great returns for many generations to come. A gift to an Augsburg endowed fund for scholarships can help ensure that an Augsburg education is affordable in perpetuity.”
In recent years, Augsburg has become one of the most diverse private institutions in the Midwest. Fifty-eight percent of traditional undergraduate students are students of color, and half are the first in their families to attend college. More than 97% of Augsburg undergraduates receive financial aid. Great Returns donors have made 111 gifts to endowed scholarships to date, out of a campaign goal of 150 such gifts, along with five new endowed professorships.
“Our vision is to be a new kind of urban, student-centered university,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “The hardships of the past few years, and the challenges facing higher education as a result, make our work to educate students as stewards of an inclusive democracy all the more critical. We are profoundly grateful to the supporters who invest in making this vision a reality.”
Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees to approximately 3,200 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota, location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings.
Jenna Nelson and Valerie DeCora Guimaraes, two nurses pursuing advanced degrees at Augsburg University, have received the inaugural Nilsson Transcultural Nurse of the Year Award. Transcultural nursing emphasizes care in culturally diverse settings, including outreach to people who are underserved by traditional care systems and who exist outside of the social mainstream. The award is named for professor emerita Beverly Nilsson, who chaired Augsburg’s Department of Nursing and championed care for people living in poverty.
Nelson has spent the majority of her career working with marginalized communities as an emergency department nurse. While working to become a family nurse practitioner, she has engaged extensively as an intern and volunteer at Augsburg’s Health Commons. These nurse-led drop-in sites provide hospitality and care to guests from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, many of whom are unhoused or living with mental illness. When the pandemic closed the drop-in locations, Nelson joined a team making weekly food deliveries to local encampments. “Jenna truly accompanies people on their journeys, wherever the path may bring her,” said Health Commons Executive Director Katie Clark.
Guimaraes is the Mayo Clinic’s first Patient Experience Ambassador to work solely with Native American patients. In this role she works to dispel myths about Native American patients and educates colleagues across the Mayo enterprise about health disparities and spiritual care practices. She established a medication initiative to coordinate care with the Indian Health Service upon patient discharge from Mayo, developed a Native American family fund to address food and transportation needs, and successfully advocated to hire additional Native American Patient Navigators in Minnesota and Arizona. “These successes for Native American patients have not been easy,” said Guimaraes, who is pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree at Augsburg. “It is my passion to help my people that keeps me going.”
Augsburg offers a comprehensive set of programs for nurses who want to advance their careers, including bachelor’s degree completion, master of arts in nursing, and doctor of nursing practice. Health equity and inclusion have been a major focus of the curriculum and experiential learning both locally and globally since the program’s founding. Augsburg’s doctor of nursing practice was one of the nation’s first programs to focus on transcultural nursing leadership.
Augsburg University will celebrate the classes of 2022, 2021, and 2020 at an in-person commencement ceremony at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 4 at 6:00 p.m.
Augsburg’s commencement ceremony reflects the diversity of its community, as graduates traditionally wear stoles and cords of different colors that represent affiliation with various communities and programs. Flags displayed at commencement represent sovereign nations of American Indian students and countries of the international students graduating in the ceremony.
Tickets are required to attend in person, but the ceremony will also be live streamed via YouTube. Follow the celebration through the hashtag #AuggieGrad on all social media platforms, where students will be sharing images of the celebration.
Augsburg University biology major Justin Holewa ’23 has received a $25,000 Boren Scholarship to study Korean in South Korea for a full year.
Boren Scholars study a wide range of critical languages, come from diverse fields of study, and immerse themselves in the language and cultures of selected world regions through study abroad. Scholarship recipients make a commitment to work in the U.S. federal government for a minimum of one year. Having recently completed a summer of research under the mentorship of Dr. Leon van Eck, Holewa envisions working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including on a plant disease called citrus greening.
An initiative of the U.S. Defense Language and National Security Education Office, the Boren awards focus on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study critical to U.S. national security that are not emphasized in other U.S. study abroad programs. Applicants are selected through a national merit-based competition that emphasizes both academic achievement and a strong commitment to public service.
Andy Aoki, professor of political science, has been named to the M. Anita Gay Hawthorne professorship of critical race and ethnicity studies, effective June 1, 2022. He succeeds Professor William Green, the inaugural holder of the professorship, who retires at the end of the current academic year. Recently elected to chair Augsburg’s Department of Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies, Aoki’s work as Hawthorne Professor will focus on building a strong foundation for the new department and strong connections with aligned disciplines.
A prolific writer and speaker on Asian American identities and racial politics, Professor Aoki joined the Augsburg faculty in 1988. He holds a BA in political science from the University of Oregon and an MA and PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At Augsburg, he teaches courses on American politics, political theory, and racial and ethnic politics. He has served as department chair of Augsburg’s political science department for a combined total of 18 years and as a senior fellow in the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship since 2014. He is currently serving as Faculty Senate President, a member of the faculty’s Budget Working Group, and chair of the workgroup charged with reviewing implications of the proposed “two college” structure for faculty governance. He co-founded the Asian Pacific American Caucus, bringing together scholars and community leaders, and has twice been president of the American Political Science Association’s organized section on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.
The M. Anita Gay Hawthorne professorship of critical race and ethnicity studies was created in 2020 on the recommendation of a working group of students, faculty, and staff who advanced, simultaneously, a vision for the creation of a new academic department in critical race and ethnicity studies at Augsburg. The professorship honors senior faculty with extensive records of achievement as well as demonstrated commitments to critical race and ethnicity studies. It seeks to embody the student and community orientation embedded in this interdisciplinary field of study, and it expresses Augsburg’s commitment to culturally-responsive pedagogy in the undergraduate and graduate curricula. It honors the legacy of Margaret Anita Gay Hawthorne (“Anita”) who drew upon the concept of Pan-Afrikanism to create a program at Augsburg unique to any college in the country.
President Paul Pribbenow offers these comments: “It is a great privilege to appoint Professor Aoki to the Hawthorne Professorship. His appointment, following Professor Bill Green’s inaugural tenure in the position, illustrates that Augsburg’s commitment to critical race and ethnic studies—now ensconced in a new department—has deep and abiding roots across the entire span of our academic mission. I am delighted to witness the many ways in which our focus on research and teaching that engages the lived experience of all our students is being taken up by faculty and students across the entire university.”
Fourteen Augsburg sociology students recently joined the Jewish Community Relations Council’s annual trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Tim Pippert, the Joel Torstenson endowed professor of sociology, led the Augsburg group, who were also joined by a group from Minnesota Hillel.
“For us, it provided the opportunity to show how sociology is applicable in lots of different ways,” Pippert said in an interview with TC Jewfolk about the group’s experience. “So I asked [the students] to think about this trip and the experience in the museum, as how does their sociological training inform what they witnessed? How did the theories that they’ve read about, how does that play out in the symbolic representation of a horrific tragedy? How do you choose to tell that story? And what are the symbols that are used to tell that story?”
Augsburg University announced today that Jeremy Myers, associate professor of religion and executive director of the institution’s Christensen Center for Vocation, has been appointed to serve as the next Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation, effective on July 1, 2022. Myers will succeed Martha Stortz, PhD, who retired and was granted emerita status in 2020.
“It is a remarkable testament to Augsburg’s leadership at the intersection of faith, learning, and service that we have in our own faculty ranks a scholar so well prepared to continue the work begun by Marty and her predecessor, David Tiede,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “Jeremy is an innovative problem-solver, a collaborative colleague, and a creatively critical theologian.”
The Christensen Chair was established in 2005 to honor the legacy of Bernhard M. Christensen, who served as president of what was then known as Augsburg College and Seminary from 1938 to 1962. The chair provides public leadership in interpreting and advancing Augsburg’s educational mission, pursues scholarship and teaches in the religion department, and serves as counsel to the president and Board of Regents.
“Jeremy has thought deeply about President Christensen’s legacy at this university and the lessons his leadership continues to have for Lutheran higher education in the current age,” Pribbenow said.
“Dr. Myers’ vision for the Christensen Chair is grounded and shaped by the five lessons of Bernhard Christensen, the Augsburg University mission statement, and the realities and challenges of the 21st century, especially the 21st century church,” said the members of a faculty and staff discernment committee that met with Myers about the role. “This vision aligns with his innovative work guiding churches in ‘place-based vocational discernment’ and will help guide our Augsburg community in new and rich reflection on our own—individual and communal—vocational discernment. In candid conversation with Dr. Myers, we explored the expectations and opportunities of this position and his ability to meet those expectations and expand the opportunities. We think he is the right person for the job.”
Myers, who earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and his master’s and PhD from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a distinguished scholar in vocation and congregational ministry. In addition to many articles and chapters, he is the author of Liberating Youth from Adolescence published by Fortress Press and a sought-after speaker at conferences and in congregations. He has secured millions of dollars in grants to support the work of the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg and has served on the steering committee of the Association of Teaching Theologians and on the board of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.
Myers said the concept of vocation is a critical lens for thinking about transformational solutions to the problems we face in today’s world. “The key ingredients of vocation—the neighbor, the self, the common good, and God (or something larger than us all)—give rise to a method of discernment and discovery that is different from any other method currently being used to address society’s biggest issues. These ingredients produce a creative tension that leads to innovation, accountability, mutuality, and hope, and this approach to public life cannot be reserved for those who claim to live a religious life. The tables where vocation is being discussed and discerned need to become long and wide.”
Myers will offer his inaugural address as the Christensen Professor at a symposium at Augsburg in September.
Augsburg University is one of 171 colleges and universities nationwide that have been named to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2022 Transfer Honor Roll. Based on key metrics related to the support and success of transfer students, the Transfer Honor Roll recognizes excellence in the development and support of dynamic and innovative pathways for community college transfer students. Some of the metrics taken into consideration are cost and financial aid, campus life, admissions practices, and bachelor’s degree completion rates.
“This award is so important because it is based on what students tell us they need from their transfer experience,” says Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa. “We are honored to recognize the colleges and universities working exceptionally hard to create stronger pathways to bachelor’s degree completion for all students.”
Jarabe Mexicano, a “bordeño-soul-folk” band with a passion for teaching and storytelling, will be in residency with the Augsburg Music Department from March 31–April 2. MPR recently explored the group’s roots in the U.S.-Mexico border region and their diverse musical influences, which range from Ritchie Valens to Los Lobos and Chicano rock. David Myers, Augsburg’s department head for music programs, was quoted in the article about the department’s goal to expand students’ appreciation of diverse music beyond western European classical music.
In addition to working with music department students and local high school students, Jarabe Mexicano will perform free public concert at Hoversten Chapel on Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m.